Political Economy in Pakistan | Dr Zafar Altaf

Pakistan’s political system is flawed and as a result all the resultant actions and implementations are erroneous. Where is reason in the system, where is the thought process. Pakistan will continue this way as its educational system is also flawed. Just imagine the allegations that are made against the opponents. I had always been brought up to accept the opponents. For after all today’s opponents may well be tomorrow’s power bloc. I had seen that in former East Pakistan where there was a considerable respect amongst the politicians for each other. I had interacted with some of the leaders on a one to one basis. In fact, when my official tenure was over and I was to proceed to Lahore the Shadow CM asked me to have farewell from him. This I declined at which he stated that the people of Shivrampur thana (equivalent to a tehsil here) wanted to give me a farewell as I had built a college and a school there. To this I agreed provided the farewell was represented by a broad section of the inhabitants of the thana area.

But before we get into the pros and cons of political economy, let us examine the nature of public good(s). A public good is one where the matter is freely available to the citizens and its use does not diminish the resource. Wind, energy and sunlight are some examples. Water used to be but not anymore. Modern agriculture has intensified its use and as a result the demand is much more than the supply. Where this political system is working the goods that are delivered are for public convenience and benefit(s) and not for personal benefits. But this is no longer possible as the thought process has been perverted. The current political powers are masters at this. Islamabad is in seismic zone but one politician land mafia-oriented is building twin towers that are about 24-storey high. How did he get this permission? Why was he allowed to violate the building codes of CDA? In Pakistan you show me the face and I will show you the appropriate rule(s). The flip side of this is and I have done it when old rules that are not in line with current thinking have to be done away with. In fact all obsolete rules can be done away with provided they are based on false premises or the assumptions are inappropriate. The one important angle in this is that the change does not benefit the policymaker. So these two counts matter but then they cannot be applied selectively but uniformly across every sector and for every citizen. The rules of equity have to be dealt with in a legal and equitable manner.

Political economy is a recent development in economics and much has still to be done in developing countries where policy matters are more personal matters. The confusion between state and government is still to be resolved. Governments feel that they are the state and whatever they say is sacrosanct. The constitution is a sacred document(?) in any democratic set-up but the violation of the constitution is more with the government in power than those outside it. I can pinpoint any number of violations that each government has done. Democracy is not about the written word only but about its spirit. A constitutional appointment is not about taking orders from the government in power even if it is responsible for the appointment. How have these constitutional postings helped the people of Pakistan? The advisor to the PM in Aviation and the recent episodes in PIA are a testimony to what I am saying. Outsiders come and plunder the organisation. The only PIA chairman that I know that did not take any benefit from the PIA was Chaudhry Ahmed Saeed while all the others used the airline to the hilt.

What are the institutions that are responsible for the implementation of the constitution? These institutions have become lacklustre as a result of the selection of individuals. I recall when posted as Deputy Commissioner Sahiwal I had put in 14 years of service. To have pliable deputy commissioners, the rule had been seven to eight years of service. I said so to the then Chief Secretary but he was adamant that I should go. I went because that is what civil servants are supposed to do. He was hopping mad when warrants of arrest were issued against a sitting IG police. He rang up. I reminded him of the conversation we had and he went quiet. Irrespective of any favours anyone who has done any wrong has to be castigated. Period.

A political economy works well when the social embodiments are equally well administered. Economy is not about economics only but has many dimensions. You can bet your last dollar and have as many dog and pony shows but the FDIs will not come to this country. The dimensions are not known. When we go to any country we are aware of its legal and social bindings. What are the legal and social bindings under which any foreign company will come here? Search your souls for a correct answer? Balochistan, Karachi, the lower judiciary or what? My own view is that the best chance we had for the lower judiciary to be sorted out was with CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry. We have lost that chance. He was a gritty person who took on massive chances in life. We did not know how to honour him and his doings. As a result we are wallowing in our own dirt.

The muck that we have raked up has engulfed all of us. All oppressive power blocs will get the same treatment that they have meted out to others. The breast beating and the anti-corruption will have to arrest their former bosses for anti-human actions if not for other crimes committed. Any benefits that accrue to anyone will have to be earned and not given on the basis of cronyism. Since all the powerful politicians have earned this money the wrong way they can hardly claim themselves to be farishtas. When will their day of reckoning come? Come it will even if it is delayed. The bill has to be paid in the here and now. It may be hidden from the common man but the arguments for former East Pakistan were different from what we have been given to understand. The Mina tragedy is again a cover up. People that I have interviewed have not talked of any stampede. It is said that it was electrocution that took place. But that will be a different article all together. Be patient, my friends.

Source: http://www.brecorder.com/articles-a-letters/187:articles/1234626:political-economy-in-pakistan/?date=2015-10-10

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